Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Test of Sonship (Part 6)

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SERMON            GM14-026

SERIES:              The Christian Life Viewed as Sonship

SETTING:          North Kelso Baptist Church

SERVICE:          Sunday AM

SUBTITLE:        The Test of Sonship     (Part 6)

SCRIPTURE:     1 John 3:16-18

SUBJ:                  John illustrates his point

SUMMARY:       You must love fellow believers through activity rather                              than by words

SCHEME:           that Christians love their fellow-believers by exemplifying their love


The Christian Life is Viewed as Son-ship

The Test of Sonship
1 John 3:16-18
(Part 6)


A.   Genuine Love Makes Costly Sacrifices

          Bryan Chapell tells this story that happened in his hometown:

          Two brothers were playing on the sandbanks by the river. One ran          after another up a large mound of sand. Unfortunately, the mound was not solid, and their weight caused them to sink in quickly. 

          When the boys did not return home for dinner, the family and neighbors organized a search. They found the younger brother     unconscious, with his head and shoulders sticking out above the sand.       When they cleared the sand to his waist, he awakened. The searchers         asked, "Where is your brother?" 

          The child replied, "I’m standing on his shoulders" 

          With the sacrifice of his own life, the older brother lifted the younger       to safety. The tangible and sacrificial love of the older brother literally served as a foundation for the younger brother’s life. 

B.   Brotherhood can be costly in the church family

          So it is with us even today. In order to care for various members in our         local church family, it might cost us very deeply or dearly to for their          well-being. There is to be no limit on what we should share to do in          order to meet the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

C.   Today’s Text

          Today’s passage outlines for us both the implication and illustration of         our responsibility and obligation to one another. But before we jump into our text, let’s take a minute and…


          Once again we continue in this section of scripture that demonstrates      that the Christian life is viewed as a life of Sonship. It is a life   whereby we are the children of God.

          Like the first section that         demonstrated that the Christian life is        viewed as fellowship. In order to prove his point, John maintains that issues a series of tests to prove one’s claim.

          The first test was that Sonship, or being a child of God demanded the      practice of righteousness. John made it clear that a genuine child of        God habitually or consistently makes it a practice to do works that are    both motivated by and in-line with the divine nature that was imparted to the believer at the moment of salvation.

          We have come to John’s second test of Sonship. In this section, John      makes it clear that…

          2B     Sonship Demands the practice of love (2:29-3:10a)             

                   John makes a transition from righteousness to love. For John                             these two ideas are related. You could almost say that these two
                   ideas might be saying the same thing.

                   Last week we saw John’s heart when we looked at… 

                   1C     The Exhortation to practice love (3:10b-15)

                             It was crucial that John would exhort his readers to                                   practice love for one another. Loving one another proved                                   that one was a Christian. Loving one another proved the                                 claim of being a child of God.
                             We said that there were at least three ways that John                                 believed would prove one’s claim of being a Christian.

                             1D     …by revealing your character (10)

                                      “…by this it is evident who are the children of                                           God…and who are the children of the devil.”

                             2D     …by remembering your command (11-13)

                                      “For this is the “command or order” that you                                           have heard from the beginning that we should                                          love one another.”

                             3D     …by ratifying our conversion (14-15)

                                      “We know that we have passed out of death into                                                 life, because we love the brothers”

So, as children of God we are exhorted or encouraged to love our fellow believers because it proves that we are indeed true children of God.

Now we are free to look at our… 


Our theme continues to be:  Genuine believers love fellow believers

Once again, this is a good reminder for all of us that the test of Sonship demands the practice of love for our fellow believers which proves our salvation to be genuine.

Proposition: Jesus Christ is the supreme example of genuine love

Interrogative SentenceSo, how does the love of Jesus Christ provide you with an example of genuine love?

Transitional SentenceIn our text, John supplies four (4) arguments demonstrates or reveals Christ to be the ultimate example of genuine love.

[Let’s begin by looking at…]

                   2C     The Exemplification of the practice of love (16-18)

                              John MacArthur wrote, “The cross is proof of both the                           immense love of God and the profound wickedness of                                  sin.” 

                             John has very explicitly stated the test of love. Now John                                  establishes a test to distinguish between genuine love                                and counterfeit love.

                             Love can be a very subjective and therefore difficult to                                       identify. Since love is a test that gives evidence of eternal                          life it is important that we know how to identify genuine                                love.

                             Love can be confused with sentiment. It can be thought                                      of something that is verbalized, especially in pretty                                   poems and songs.

                             In verses 16-18 John deals with the problem of                                          identifying genuine love. To do so us John does this by                                       giving us a tremendous example.

                             Genuine love can be seen in a visible example.
Genuine love…
                             1D     is seen in its personification (16a)

                                      en toutw egnwkamen tnv agapnn, oti ekeinos
                                      uper hmwn thn yucn autou efhke

                                      “By this we know love, that he laid down his life                                                 for us…”

                                      “But God shows his love for us, in that while                                            were still sinners, Christ died for us…”

                                        How can genuine love be recognized? Again, this                                                is a very crucial test since John sets up love as a                                                 test of the genuineness of your salvation.

                                      True love was shown by God so that we sinners                                                 could learn to enjoy God’s love and to enjoy and                                                experience its lasting effects on their lives.

                                      If there were ever to be a question about what real                                              love is or what John expected from his readers, all                                             they had to do was to look at the example of Jesus                                             and they would know. IOW, they could say:

                                      Oh, that is love!

                                      To sacrifice myself or my goods for the benefit of                                               another believer - now I know what love is.

                                      With this example there would be no need for any                                              further definition or explanation.

                                      First of all, the pronoun “this” is used in what                                           Greek scholars call the instrumental case.
                                         John           uses it to look forward to the clause “that He                                    laid down his life for us.”

                                      John reminds his readers of the supreme example                                               of love which was His self-sacrifice on the cross.

                                      There are no limits of sacrifice that we are to make                                   for one another. Genuine love motivated by God’s                                              love within us will not stop at any place and say,                                               well that is enough.  I went as far as I should.

                                       What is important to note right here is that Jesus                                               did not simply have “feelings” in His heart.

                                      Nor did he declare or speak words of endearment                                               to us as sinners.

                                      He expressed his love in self-sacrificing action

                                      “He laid down his life for us… (16)

                                      Genuine love is active love.

                                      “But God shows his love for us, in that while                                            were still sinners, Christ died for us…”

                                      God did not just say I love you or feel warm and                                                fuzzy feelings toward us, John said God did                                                        something to prove, demonstrated, or show the                                         love that He had for us – He gave Christ as a                                          sacrifice to die in our place.

So, we see that and we know this, but now and then we need reminded of it, love is a verb, it is an action and must be expressed in action.

But, in realizing this and seeing it as it relates to God, John shows us that it relates to you and me also. 

Our theme continues to be:  Genuine believers love fellow believers

Once again, this is a good reminder for all of us that the test of Sonship demands the practice of love for our fellow believers which proves our salvation to be genuine.

As we continue to work our way through our text, John makes a second argument that demonstrates or reveals Christ to be the ultimate example of genuine love.

This second argument …

                             2D     …is seen in its implication (16b)

                                      “…and we ought to lay down our life for the                                            brothers.”
                                        Faith is a living and unshakable confidence. A                                            belief in God so assured that a man would die a                                         thousand deaths for its sake. — Martin Luther 

                                        John is telling his readers you can know for a fact                                               without question what genuine love is. It is an act                                               of sacrifice that one makes on behalf of another.
                                      Then John illustrates his point by using Jesus.

                                      Now that his readers have no doubt as to the type                                              of love that John expects them to have as genuine                                              believers, he gives an example of how they can                                          practice this type or kind of love.
                                      If the situation ever presents itself, we are to give                                                our life, we are to sacrifice our life for a fellow                                           believer.

                                      Here is our example and John applies it to all true                                              followers and children of God.  This is action a                                          moral obligation placed upon all true children of                                                 God by John.
                                      This obligation shouldn’t be a surprise:

·        The NT teaches that believers are to become like Christ and made into His image. Paul declares that this is God’s purpose that believes are to become conformed to the image of His Son. (Romans 8:29)

·        Jesus commanded His disciples to love as He loved (John 13:34-35; 15:12)

·        Only when love is actually put into action does love become complete or genuine

So, our love for our fellow believers is to parallel the love that Jesus had for us. So there is no limit as to what we would do for fellow believers.

This could be anything from sharing a loaf of bread to actually sacrificing your life. By the way, the tense of our verb depicts a voluntary and intentional action. We don’t accidently sacrifice our goods or our lives, but if need be we do so willingly and intentionally.

Our theme continues to be:  Genuine believers love fellow believers

Once again, this is a good reminder for all of us that the test of Sonship demands the practice of love for our fellow believers which proves our salvation to be genuine.

John knows this is extreme and so he also gives another practical illustration of the type of love that he is talking about.
 So, we come to the third argument which demonstrates or reveals Christ to be the ultimate example of genuine love. 

[This argument…]

                             3D     …is seen in its demonstration (17)

                                      “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his                                    brother in need…”

                                        Paul said in Philippians 2:4, “Look not every man                                                 on his own things, but every man also on the things                                     of others.”

                                      This is a very simple test yet it reveals whether we                                              are on the road to salvation or whether we are still                                             under condemnation.

                                      The “world’s goods” is actually life. John is                                                        actually talking about that which sustains us, keeps                                  us alive. That which pertains to living.

                                      The word that John uses is a very rare word in the                                              NT. The regular word for life, zwh is used at least                                              100 times in the NT.

                                      This little phrase can mean almost anything.
                                      Continuing with John’s demonstration of love as                                                an action, and not merely as a word or sentiment,                                               John says if you have that which pertains to living                                              and you see your brother in need and you don’t                                        give that to him, then how can you really say that                                          God and His love resides in you?

                                      If we are unwilling to share a portion of our goods,                                   or those things that are associated with living with                                              those whom we know and are associated with then                                             we don’t have the love of God living in us.

There are at least three things that we should clearly see in verse 17: 

·        Material possessions are meant to be shared and not hoarded. We have a tendency to collect possessions and hang on to them for our own personal use. But God gives us possessions many times for the sole purpose of helping someone else. We need to be aware of our fellow believes around us in order to be able to help them with the goods or possessions – the things that pertain to living.

·        We must be close enough to our brothers/sisters to see any needs. The second thing to see is observing a brothers need – “…and sees his brother in need…”  This not a glance at someone and going on about our business. It is a continuing observation. If we are aware of a particular need over a period of time and we don’t share what we have to meet that need how can we call ourselves a Christian is what John is saying.

          So if we see a brother in a particular need for a long period of time,         shame on us, we should meet that need.

·        Our response is the key issue at hand here. Because the third thing we see here in verse 17 deals with our response. John says…
          “…yet closes his heart against him…”

          John uses a word that we can understand, “to close a door, more so the   idea of “slamming a door shut.” We all know how to do that don’t   we?  
          My ESV says closes his heart, and your KJV says “shutteth up his          bowels and then in italics it adds “of compassion.”

          The Greek word is literally translated as “bowels.” The Greek Word        describes the upper internal organs like the heart, lungs, and the liver.

          This region came to be thought of by the Greeks as the “seat of       emotions.” The place where emotions are felt, especially emotions life love or fear.

          The word came to be used figuratively to describe the seat of          emotions like love, mercy or compassion.

          So John says, “…how does God’s love abide in him?”
          John implies that true love proves itself by action.

          John’s point is this, if acts of sacrificial love are not present in our           lives, then it is really unreasonable for someone to claim that they are    indwelt by God and His love.

John is simply saying, that if you don’t help your brothers who are in need and if you do continually slam the door on loving and helping them, then you are actually contradicting your claim of being a Christian. God’s love cannot live in that kind of heart or environment.

Our theme continues to be:  Genuine believers love fellow believers

Once again, this is a good reminder for all of us that the test of Sonship demands the practice of love for our fellow believers which proves our salvation to be genuine.

The fourth (4) argument demonstrates or reveals Christ to be the ultimate example of genuine love.        And this argument…                      

                             4D     …is seen in its application (18)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        teknia mh agapwmen logw mhde tn glwssn alla en eggw kai alnqeia
John says…
                        “My little children, let us not love in word or talk but in                                      deed and in truth.”

                    During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of                         England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The                                      execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew                             bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier's fiancĂ© had                     climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to           prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell                     to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her                                   bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell's heart was touched and he                               said, "Your fiancĂ© shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew                        shall not ring tonight!" 

                             It seems John uses the term little children to remind them                          and ultimately to remind us of the spiritual family that we                        all belong to. And it reminds them and us of the source of                      our spiritual life – it is from God!

                             John is making his appeal on the grounds of the common                                  spiritual nature that these readers shared. They were all                                      brothers and sisters in Christ.

                             John appeals to them as their spiritual Father gently and                                   lovingly begging them to give the appropriate response to                         the love that was planted in their heart when they were                                   born into the family of God.

                             John is calling for love to be expressed in actual deeds                              rather than just some superficial verbiage of “I love you.”

                             John’s grammar seems to indicate that the most common                                   expression of love is just that, talk. To John talk is just                                      simply hypocritical and unacceptable, John wants to see                                    some action.

                             Lehman Straus reminds us, “Kind and comforting words                          are not condemned in verse 18. We need to speak with                                       soft and sympathetic words, but such words should be                                     accompanied by helpful and heart-warming deeds.”

So, we should not only speak words of love but we should back them up with specific deeds.                                               

Our theme is:  “Genuine believers love fellow believers”

This is a good reminder for us all that the Test of Sonship demands the practice of love for fellow believers which proves our salvation to be genuine. The practice of love is visible and costly.

But for now, what do you say we wrap this up?

I conclude with these facts which graphically illustrate John’s point…


Fifty-six men signed the Declaration of Independence. Their conviction resulted in untold sufferings for themselves and their families:

·        Of the 56 men, 5 were captured by the British & tortured before they died:  
·        12 had their homes ransacked and burned.
·        2 lost their sons in the Revolutionary Army.
·        Another had two sons captured by the enemy.
·        9 of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the war.
·        Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships sunk by the British navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and he died in poverty.
·        At the battle of Yorktown, the British General Cornwallis had taken over Thomas Nelson's home for his headquarters. Nelson simply ordered General George Washington to open fire on his own home. His home was destroyed and later Nelson died bankrupt.
·        John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their thirteen children fled for their lives. His fields and mill were destroyed. over a year, he lived in forest and caves, returning home only to find his wife dead and his children gone. He died from exhaustion.

The men who decided to create a free nation and sign the declaration of independence didn’t just talk, they gave their goods, money, health, family, homes, and even their lives for the good of their fellow countrymen. We cannot do any less than what Christ did for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the church. [Therefore…]

Exhortation:  I exhort you to love with no limits your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, be willing to give any and all of your earthly goods for their well-being including your own life if necessary for this makes sure your claim of being a Son or child of God. 

John wrote in John 13:34 (ESV) 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (ESV)

Let’s pray! J

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